The Ghost Army
by Alan Allegra

Folks who read these devotionals are either old enough to remember World War II or are familiar with the many stories and heroes of the war. Everyone has heard of Generals Patton and Eisenhower, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Enola Gay, and Rosie the Riveter.

But have you heard of the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops? No? Don't be surprised -- up until about 20 years ago, almost no one had heard of the Ghost Army of World War II.

With a force of 1,100 brilliant, creative men, the Ghost Army's mission was to defraud, disappoint, dupe, deceive, and decoy the enemy. They did so by using inflatable artillery, tanks, airplanes, and transports; the most extensive sound effects library available; phony uniforms and markings; drawings; and signs. They impersonated entire platoons in person and on radio. They looked and sounded so real, they fooled not only the enemy, but our military as well! One reason they were so successful was because the Germans didn't think the Americans were smart enough to fool them. Their mission -- and very existence -- was so top secret, only a few military and government officials in their direct line knew about them.

It was the enemy who nicknamed them the Ghost Army, because they appeared so real, but then seemed to disappear.

The religious world has its own Ghost Army that is just as effective. Many churches have their own detachment of a spiritual Ghost Army. John warns us about them in 2 John 7: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."

These deceivers can even be church leaders who pretend to wear stripes they don't deserve. Jesus sounds the alarm: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray" (Matthew 24:4-5). Of their disciples, he says, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mark 7:6).

The Ghost Army would have been ineffective if the Germans had caught on. Satan can be rendered ineffective when believers catch on to his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Under cover of church communion, worthy works, pious platitudes, and even manifest miracles, Ghost Army recruits look and sound real, but are merely inflatable Christians.

In the middle of a pointed discourse about the days in which we dwell, Paul points out those who seem more spiritual than they really are (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Ghost Army recruits do not have the Holy Spirit in them, and inwardly are not Christ's (Romans 8:9).

Although the 23rd gave the impression of wielding the might of many tanks and artillery pieces, in reality, they only had small machine guns; they could be easily overwhelmed.

Duplicitous false disciples, too, have little defense against Satan, the "roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8). Without the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), a person cannot stand secure. The devil is one enemy that is not easily fooled.

Amazingly, when the real battles began, the Ghost Army disappeared; that was their job. One mark of a pretend believer is desertion when things get tough (Luke 8:13; 1 John 2:19).

If you are not sure you are part of the Lord's Army, it's time to enlist! Read the book of 1 John to see whose side you're on.

The Ghost Army of World War II saved thousands of lives; the spiritual Ghost Army destroys millions of souls. The only honorable discharge from the spiritual Ghost Army is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31).

Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!

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